Prepare aheadAs a youth at summer camp I recall...

the Forum

July 20, 1992

Prepare ahead

As a youth at summer camp I recall singing:

Did you ever stop to think as the hearse rolls by

That some day you and some day I

Will be carried away in the old gray hack

And, the Lord, he knows we'll never come back?

Dying was much less complicated in those days. The old folks would get sick, "Doc" would pay a few visits and prescribe something from the drug store, and in a few days -- weeks at most -- it would be over. Things are different today. Patients can be "kept alive" for months, even years, with these so-called "life support systems".

The process of sustaining life is often dehumanizing to the patient. The word "feeding" conjures up the image of an infant at its mother's breast or a platter of one's favorite food, not a plastic tube inserted into one's body and carrying a liquid of minerals and vitamins. The use of a machine to perpetuate one's vital signs -- respiration, pulse and blood pressure -- for days, weeks, even months, has become routine.

The key to circumventing such a situation is to act in advance. Make your desires known to your family and friends, and complete a "durable power of attorney for health care." A wise lady once said: "Don't undress 'till you're ready to go to bed." I would add, "and make sure your bed is made."

J. Bernard Hihn

Baltimore

Vacant spirits

Why wasn't the American flag flying at Memorial Stadium on Memorial Day, Flag Day or on Independence Day?

Better yet, why doesn't the flag fly every day at Memorial Stadium? This is still a memorial, even though it seems the city politicians don't care about our veterans. Why aren't the veterans groups upset about the American flag not flying at Memorial Stadium?

The veterans' groups should be doing something about Memorial Stadium. These groups don't seem to care about veterans' memorials. These groups never attended any of the meetings that were held on the disposition of Memorial Stadium.

What good are these groups? Where are they when needed? Memorial Stadium is the only World War II memorial in the Baltimore area built and dedicated by Baltimore City.

The American flag stands for the Republic and the Constitution. Let's show we still have some patriotism left.

Harry B. How Jr.

Baltimore

Who cares?

Doesn't anyone care about veterans anymore?

If the recent cutting of the No. 4 bus to Fort Howard Veterans' Hospital is any indication, I don't think so.

Sure, our elected officials wrote letters to the MTA but that was the extent of it. They were told, like me, that the Fort Howard route did not take in enough money to make it worthwhile.

Forget the hardships, money and health costs that this will result in for riders.

We are concerned not only about the veterans that use Fort Howard but about residents there and at Lodge Farm and Edgemere. These people will suffer, too.

John W. McDonough Sr.

Dundalk

The writer is hospital chairman of American Legion Post 38 in Dundalk.

Economic elite

There is an elite that we should fear. Not Dan Quayle's cultural elite but an economic elite. The individuals who pay $1,000 a plate for a fund-raiser for President Bush -- and probably write it off as a business expense. The corporations that pay lobbyists hundreds of thousands of dollars to influence (read "buy") favorable legislation from Congress. These favorable laws save these organizations millions in taxes that have to be made up by you and me.

There is also the obscene compensation paid CEOs and upper management of companies that are losing millions of dollars a year. We should fear the truly elite, the 10 percent of the people who have 90 percent of the total wealth of this country and are making sure they keep every penny.

Thomas D. Bolita

Baltimore

No 'rights' in the absence of responsibility

Much has been written lately about "property rights" and landowners who do not want government regulation to interfere with their "right" to do whatever they please with their property.

"Property rights" advocates want to build in flood plains without government interference, yet they must have government subsidized flood insurance in order to do so. No bank or lending institution will give a mortgage on property in the flood plain without this publicly subsidized insurance.

These owners balk at the cost of sediment control measures when building on their land, yet are the first to ask government to dredge the sediment-filled waterways.

They moan and groan over government wetlands protection but love to eat the seafood dependent on those wetlands. When wetlands are filled or drained, the water then becomes a problem for their neighbors.

People who benefit from government but cry foul over the obligations inherent in being good citizens need to reconsider their responsibilities to their neighbors.

We must all work together on this planet, and we must work for the benefit of all, not just a privileged few.

Joan Seward Willey

Annapolis

Flagging respect

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